Alstom's Coradia iLint-Hydrogen Powered Train
Climate change is the most crucial issue of our time and its implications are global in scope and unprecedented in scale. Growing urbanisation is one of the key contributors to climate change. Although the threat is poses to humanity is a global one, Asia may be particularly impacted. The continent is a global leader in rapid urbanization as it is home to 19 of the world’s top 20 cities, according to JLL. Additionally, 99 of the 100 most polluted cities in the world are located in Asia.The paradox is that a typical marker of economic progress is growth in demand for private transport. Unfortunately, it is estimated that Asia’s motorised transport will be responsible for 31 percent of the global aggregate CO2 emissions by 2030, up from 19 percent in 2006. The challenge for the continent is to ensure Life Quality Index of its cities, while maintaining economic growth and acknowledging the need for environmental sustainability. According to a recent study, Green transport is expected to overtake private cars in major cities across the world by 2030. India is swiftly taking great strides towards green mobility and transport. The efforts by the government and players in the mobility space are currently complying with the key objectives of sustainable development; enabling energy transition and climate change mitigation in transport, acting as responsible entities and making a difference to the lives of local communities, while simultaneously progressing towards a greener future. There is an urgent need to increase collaboration across sectors and within government departments in order to raise collective ambitions and develop specific policy pathways for transport.
Emissions of pollutants into the air has a significant negative impact on the environment. According to the annual 'State of Global Air 2020' report, around 6.7 million deaths were reported globally due to long-term exposure to air pollution in 2019 with China (1.8 million) and India (1.6 million) together accounting for more than half of such deaths. Researchers from McGill University stated that over half of the world's population lives without the protection of adequate air quality standards. Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter are two of the most dangerous air contaminants to human health.While stating that air pollution is globally the fourth highest cause of death, the report suggests that it is the largest risk factor for deaths in India.
After years of warnings, recent developments suggest that climate change is finally being taken seriously by governments and individuals. The challenge is huge and requires a massive change in mindset. Governments will need to make radical moves to mitigate the effects of the crisis, and one key area where effective action can be taken is public transport. With the global demand for passenger traffic expected to increase by more than double between 2015 and 2050, there is an urgent need to take substantive steps to cut emissions from transport. Sustainability is going to be the biggest game-changer going forward. Building up infrastructure and developing energy-efficient, sustainable transport systems will be a key solution for curbing CO2 emissions. This can be achieved by designing and delivering sustainable global railway solutions that will contribute to limiting the rise in global temperatures to under 2°C and benefit everyone they serve. Decarbonizing transportation is integral to promote sustainability and positive climate change.
Leading societies to a low carbon future, Alstom develops and markets mobility solutions that provide the sustainable foundations for the future of transportation. Hydrogen is seen as a low-emission and efficient alternative to diesel, which ensures that the trains are environment-friendly. When it comes to hydrogen cell-powered trains, Alstom is the only company in the world to have a product on tracks and not merely on the drawing board. The Coradia iLint is the world’s first passenger train powered by a hydrogen fuel cell, which produces electrical power for traction. This zero-emission train emits low levels of noise, with exhaust being only steam and condensed water. It is a perfect illustration for the company’s commitment to designing and delivering innovative and environmentally friendly solutions.
In line with the aim to facilitate a global transition to a low-carbon transport system, it was at InnoTrans 2016 in Berlin that Alstom presented the Coradia iLint for the first time. The launch of the CO2-emission-free regional train that represents a true alternative to diesel power positioned the company as the first railway manufacturers in the world to develop a passenger train based on hydrogen technology. The Coradia iLint is special for its combination of different innovative elements: clean energy conversion, flexible energy storage in batteries, and smart management of traction power and available energy. Specifically designed for operation on non-electrified lines, it enables clean, sustainable train operation while ensuring high levels of performance. And just two years later, in 2018, the iLint entered into commercial service in Germany. This is the first time in the world that commercial trains powered by hydrogen-based cell have gone into use for transporting passengers. This zero-emission train is silent and only emits steaming condensed water and any excess energy is stored in iron lithium batteries on board.
This technology is gaining momentum quickly. Alstom has performed ten days of tests of the Coradia iLint hydrogen fuel cell train on the 65 kilometres of line between Groningen and Leeuwarden in the north of the Netherlands. The tests follow 18 successful months of passenger service on the Buxtehude–Bremervörde–Bremerhaven–Cuxhaven line in Germany, where a total of 41 Coradia iLint have already been ordered. The latest tests make the Netherlands the second country in Europe where the train has proven itself a unique emissions-free solution for non-electrified lines. Alstom has received follow-up orders in Italy and France, led a pilot project in the UK and ran successful test runs in Austria, and Germany. Other countries already looking into buying their trains including U.K, Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Italy and Canada.
The iLint was designed by Alstom teams in Salzgitter (Germany), the centre of excellence for regional trains, and in Tarbes (France), the centre of excellence for traction systems. This project benefitted from the support of the German Ministry of Economy and Mobility and the development of the Coradia iLint was funded by the German government, as part of the National Innovation Program for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology (NIP).
India’s move towards hydrogen-powered trains
Indian Railways in particular is committed to positive climate change and has undertaken various initiatives to meet its goal of transforming into a ‘Net Zero’ Carbon Emission Mass Transportation Network by 2030. It is making several coordinated moves towards sustainable mobility, which will play a key role in helping the government and businesses kickstart economic revival with renewed energy. Hydrogen fuel cell trains could be the next big thing, and this can be a technology that India looks forward to adapting in the coming years. As part of efforts to find alternative sources of fuel to power its trains, and to reduce reliance on fossil fuel-based energy sources like diesel and electricity, Indian Railways is experimenting with hydrogen fuel-cell-based trains as well as electrifying its tracks. This will address the energy requirements, improve its operating ratio and reduce the environmental impact.
As a global leader in sustainable mobility with proven expertise in building Hydrogen fuel-based trains, Alstom can support the government in achieving its emissions reduction targets and pave the way for improved and enhanced sustainable mobility solutions.